Is Democracy Still The Right Choice For America?

Recently, I was thinking about the presidential elections. As I was pondering the upcoming rhetoric, banter, and speeches, a shocking question arose. Is democracy still the right choice for America? I know that there will be a lot of knee-jerk “yes” shouts, but I’ve been thinking about this; over the past decade, some things have happened that have shed light on how much we value democracy. The Patriot Act, the great US automaker bailout, the proposal for mandatory health insurance, and President Obama promising to regulate oil prices all seem to be square pegs pounded in the round holes of democracy. I don’t remember a general vote for these important events – do you? Oh, I’m sure that, at the time, you were urged by someone to call your elected official, but that doesn’t equal a vote. Not even close. Do you think your elected officials (or their staff) listen to every single voice mail or read every single letter or e-mail? Probably not. So, let’s just take a brief look at some possible alternatives to democracy. Would America be better off under a Parliament system? Although very similar in nature, it could offer some distinct benefits that our two party, triad of government can’t. This would probably be the easiest option. Another option would be a Neo-Theocracy that embraces the paradigms and basic principles of the major world religions. A constitution drafted from several different divine texts might be very different in some basic ways (the first one I can think of is the 1st Amendment). The execution of governmental responsibilities might also be radically different if the ranks were filled with priests and theologians instead of politicians. Should our country be placed under the guiding hand of an American monarchy? This may have been the worst nightmare of our founding fathers, but given the gridlock in Washington, DC over the past few years, it might not be a bad thing. American royalty wouldn’t necessarily have to have unlimited power: we could create a legal framework in which they would have to work. We could even come up with a procedure to remove them from the throne. Or what if America was simply a colony? Or a collection of colonies? We could have a legal framework that dictates the relationship between us and our parent countries. Perhaps we could even seek some sort of guarantees or protection from the UN. If we didn’t like how our parent country was treating us, we could always court another country. You might find this extremely distasteful, but remember, you already have a city, county, state, and federal government over you and each has a myriad of laws. You are not as free as you think you are. Should we try a blend of socialism and communism? This might be too much for many to take but with the emphasis on liberty and justice (and lots of money) for some – not all, a blend of these two philosophies might alleviate some of our current gripes. Some in the Occupy Wall Street movement might be hoping for this kind of solution (although they might not call it by these names).

What if we could create a new form of government that incorporates a few elements of all the above mentioned models? Is this even possible you ask? If we are willing to challenge our assumptions and re-examine our definitions of freedom and America itself, it just might be. But in order to envision a new form of government, we must ask ourselves what we are most committed to. Are we pledging our allegiance to a political system? A particular form of government? A constitution? A picture of America that has been passed down from generation to generation? Or are we committed to the principles that gave birth to all these things? If we had to boil this question down to its most basic form, it might be this: What do we want? A chance to participate in our government? Safety from internal and external threats? A clear moral landscape? Low prices on what we need to live? If we can explore these questions, I believe that our upcoming elections will be meaningful and worth participating in.


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